An old fitness adage says – “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got” and when it comes to health, that is something we all strive to do and some of us are already working on it over years. We all want to be physically in shape, active and also the fittest version of ourselves but with the advancing unhealthy lifestyles, stress, anxiety and irregular routines, the idea of being leaner, fitter and stronger seems bleak and burdensome.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Vansh Chhabra, Senior Nutritionist at Wellversed, shared, “Human body stops adapting to any new routine once it becomes comfortable with it and ultimately the results cease to exist. In order to break this cycle, one needs to constantly change and renew forms of interventions to achieve desired outcomes.”
He listed some tips that might help you kickstart your journey to being leaner, fitter and stronger –
1. Best form of nutrition: “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. Fitness is the most direct result of good nutrition, consistent efforts and a relaxed body. Load on a diet that surrounds veggies, lean protein, fish, low-fat dairy, and clean foods. Introduce carbs in the form of whole grains and quinoa, add anti-inflammatory foods like green leafy vegetables, avocados, olive oil, etc to the diet and cut down sugars to reduce inflammation. Protein requirements usually surge above normal to maintain muscle growth and repair. Get the best form of protein with every meal (lean protein, fish, nuts and nut butters, legumes, tofu, soy milk, whole grains, etc.) nutrition to attain greater outputs. Stay hydrated and avoid fancy-carbonated and sugary beverages.
2. Eat as per needed: Keep yourself satiated and stop when you are full. Over-eating or starvation will only hinder progress. Do mindful eating and listen to the signals that your body sends to you. Your body is the best teacher that tells you about you at the earliest, be honest to your body and let it be honest to you.
3. Avoid severe restrictions: Strictly keeping the body away from what it loves can have detrimental effects and lead to binge eating. However, to counter this, eat in moderation. Avoid feeling guilty and work on it the next day, the more you restrict, the more it’s difficult to sustain.
4. Fitness progression: Practice transition from one form of exercise to another, begin with low-to-moderate workouts and lesser durations while gradually embracing yourself to train harder towards high-intensity cardio or mixing a few of them like running, cycling, swimming, weight lifting, etc. can do wonders together by building stamina and endurance. Play with different sets, frequencies, intensity, and duration of exercise to build a more effective routine. Lifting weights helps you maintain the muscles that break during cardio. Intervals of building muscle and cutting fat can also be opted. Enhance your speed with stronger and powerful arm movements. Nevertheless, in an attempt to build strength, do not forget to give your body a break and adequate recovery time. Give time to injuries, breakdowns and ensure proper rest and good quality sleep.
5. Break your goal: Having sub-goals of a greater goal often accelerates and polishes the overall output. It not only keeps you motivated but also dedicated as small chunks of success fuels you for the larger game. Make specific, achievable, measurable goals that are realistic and time-bound. Enjoy the process of attaining your end goal of fitness and record your progress at every step.
According to Gaurav Bansal, Health Coach at MyHealthBuddy, “Inside this enormous world of health and fitness exists a small world of facts, evidence-based information and data that all the top fitness gurus seem to agree with. You’d already know this by now but it starts with exercising regularly, eating healthy, sleeping well, and prioritizing recovery. If you’ve mastered this, your health journey is half way there. The other half is behavioural, like setting realistic goals for yourself. Working out every day of the week is commendable but not practical for most people.”
He advised, “Work towards a more realistic goal like 4 days a week and a walk on the days that you’re not exercising. Move an inch towards those goals every day. Small baby steps! Setting realistic goals increases the probability of you sticking to them, making you feel more confident. It also gives you a chance to reward yourself for a job well done (I suggest shopping). No matter how many motivational posts you read on social media, don’t rely on motivation to reach your goals. You’ll find yourself disappointed and burnt out pretty quickly. Motivation is very short lived and works on external validation.”
Pointing out that you might feel motivated when someone gives you a compliment or when your new post on IG gets a lot of likes but these are not permanent, Gaurav Bansal recommended to instead, form habits and stick to them. He said, “Consistency will take you further than motivation ever will. Remember, your health is not a 30-day challenge, it’s a lifelong commitment. Just like how we brush our teeth & shower every day, it’s important to make it a part of your daily routine.”
As the world rediscovers the benefits of being fit and not just looking fit, the discussion now heads towards what we can do to take care of our health. Calling nutrition and physical activity as the two major components of fitness, Pranit Shilimkar, Health and Fitness Entrepreneur and Founder of Fitnesstalks, said that hydration, recovery and stress management are crucial additional factors too. He shared –
Nutrition: Perhaps the biggest game-changer in your fitness journey, people tend to discard good nutrition quite easily. You cannot ‘out-train’ a bad nutrition regime. Most of your results or work will be done in the kitchen. Simply put, you need to consider two things: not skipping meals and completing your macro and micronutrients through every meal. It’s important that your plate consists of a good amount of protein, fats, carbohydrates, fibre, and yes, water. Portion control, mindful eating, utilizing spices to make nutritious and healthy food are some great tips. Just remember to focus on the word ‘nutrition’ and not ‘diet’; you want a food routine that is sustainable, easy to cook, and does not deprive you of anything. Results appear once your nutrition is on point.
Strength training: Any physical activity contributes to you losing fat and getting leaner and stronger. Cardio is a great way to burn some calories while working on your cardiovascular performance. How strength training (lifting weights) has been scientifically proven to aid your body recomposition, burn calories, and just improve your physical and mental performance. You want a healthy balance of cardio as well as strength training with enough focus on recovery in order to avoid injuries and perform at your best. Ensure that you incorporate any physical activity to start with, it does not have to be too rigorous or just a traditional gym workout.
Pranit Shilimkar suggested, “Additionally, you also need to ensure that you’re hydrating adequately. Water has countless benefits, however, you’d be surprised to know how frequently you misinterpret thirst for hunger. Make sure that no matter what nutrition or physical activity you incorporate, you start off slow and remain consistent. People fall off the wagon because they train or diet too rigorously. Remember that fitness is a state of being as well as mind, it takes time and shortcuts don’t work out. Move at a sustainable pace and keep improving your goals.”
Remember, you must enjoy the journey! Being leaner, fitter and stronger isn’t an overnight process and takes months-and-years of dedicated hardship and patience. The fitness experts insist that an honest dedicated approach demands adherence to your goal is the most healthy and sustainable manner. Do what you find interesting, anything that keeps you motivated is just the right thing to do. Never indulge into things just for the sake of it. Health and wellness should be pleasurable to the mind and body to reap the greatest fruits from it.